Interview With Ben Davis Of “From Cents To Retirement”

Ladies and germs, I present to you an interview I conducted with Benjamin Davis. Ben runs the blog From Cents To Retirement and is well on his way to an early retirement. He manages investment properties and a stock portfolio, so one could safely say he knows what he’s doing.
Anyhoo, sit back and enjoy the show! And Ben, you’re under oath.

Who is Ben Davis?

I am a 28 year old Engineer. I am single and very frugal. I grew up in Portugal and Italy, but I am currently living in Germany (where salaries are way better). Before, I spent 4 years in Canada. I chose Portugal as I like the country very much and the cost of living is way lower than say in Canada or the US. At the same time, the weather, the people, and the food are just awesome.

I like my job very much, but I like other things even more, and I don’t know how long I will be able to work, so in 2015 I decided that I will retire early. The reason why I won’t be able to work much longer is that I have the chronic fatigue syndrome.

What do you do for a living and what do you like the most about it?

I work as a scientific researcher. I graduated PhD last year and I took a part-time position as a post doc. I love what I do, but the pay ain’t that great.

I love discovering a result first hand, something which nobody else ever saw.

Why did you start your blog and what is your main goal with it?

It just crossed the 1-year mark. I did something big to celebrate it: I called a few top bloggers and did a roundup on Early Retirement, renovated the design and published my first book.

My main goal is to become a reference in the niche. I know where I am going, so it is mainly execution now.

Any big plans for your blog for the near future?

As I said, I want to turn it into a reference in the Early Retirement niche. Blogging is a very hard “business”, but I like it a lot and during the last 3 months, I’ve been building a strategy to grow and improve my blog. The future will be mainly execution. There are a few surprises down the road.

What was the main reason for you to think about early retirement?

CFS. I still recall the day I was diagnosed. This was the worst day of my life. The doctor went on to explain me all the problems of the disease and how worse the symptoms were going to get. I felt as scared as never. This disease is way more than fatigue. I experience extreme fatigue (which makes it hard to lift my toothbrush sometimes), dizziness, chronic muscle tension and a few other symptoms that leave me incapacitated. I learned how to manage some symptoms and I can get through life (some days are much better than others though).

Over the years I found a few things that help me managing the symptoms, such as a good fibromyalgia diet and meditation.

At what age are you most likely to retire from your day job?

I am on track to retire by 33.

What do you plan on doing after retirement?

My life will be awesome once I start having 2k of passive income. This is how I think it will look like (actually this is a short version I recently provided on Quora):
  • Blogging. I’ve always loved to write and express myself, but blogging is a lot more than writing. But we know that blogging is not only about writing and there are many other tasks involved. I would like From Cents To Retirement to become a reference for Early Retirement and my main goal with it is inspiring people and keep myself motivated. I recently re-branded the site and I think it came out nicely.
  • Going into nature more often. I love to hike (especially in not so popular wood trails), find hidden lakes and waterfalls and what not. Happy Ben here:
  • Working out more often. Before I started my PhD I used to dead-lift up to 400 lbs. My shape was amazing (I focused more on aesthetics than strength). I would like to come back
  • Write more booksI just published my first book but I’ve got a few more in the pipeline. I wish I had time to write more books. This will definitely be a go after I “retire”.
  • Participate in multiple Real Estate projects across the Portuguese coast. The idea is to set up short-term rentals for tourists (including surfers). I’ve been studying the market and I think that there is a lot of demand for this.
  • Coaching other people. I would like to coach friends for free, once I don’t need any further monetary compensation, so I will ask for a tree (planted by themselves on land I’ve been buying, outsourcing won’t be permitted) and maybe some other things, like volunteering.

What investments do you like the best, and why?

Real Estate, hands down. I am so biased towards Real Estate I am afraid it may affect my discipline as an investor. 

There are a few advantages to Real Estate. First, it pays you every month. Second, you can directly influence your deals, at many levels. Regardless the market is hot or not, you can find pretty nice deals. You may meet someone who is about to leave the country and is able to take a haircut to sell quickly. You may choose a very expensive contractor to rehab a property or you may find a very affordable one. All this can turn a deal into something awesome.

I tend to publish a lot of Real Estate resources on my blog, including free real estate bookspro forma examples or how to get rid of couches.

As someone who is fighting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, what is your advice for those who are constantly tired and literally don’t have the energy to put into achieving their dreams and goals?

To be honest, it is very hard to live with CFS. Although I’d discovered a few things that improve and/or fend off some symptoms, it is still hard. Its always very hard to cope with symptoms that pop up out of the blue, even if it seems that you did nothing to cause them.

However, I wrote an article for Joe at Retireby40 (check it out here: retireby40.org/no-reason-why-cant-retire-early/), which shows that if I can do it, then anyone can.

If you’re running low on energy I think that you should look for things to improve that. You have a whole bunch of techniques you can try out, so do down the list and see what works best. You’re not alone, and you’ve got many examples of people who are constantly tired and yet accomplished their dreams.

What are your goals for the rest of 2017?

I made a few mistakes in the past regarding my blog, but I am finally on the right track. I think that now, turning my blog into something big is just a matter of time and execution. 2017 will definitely revolve around building From Cents To Retirement into a big brand, that will focus on providing incredible value for readers.

Other than working hard on my blog, my goal is to considerably improving my health. I am currently moving to Portugal, a much better country to live in, and relax. I am finally enjoying and having the time to relax and re-build myself.

Now, as a goal driven individual, I could provide you with a huge list of goals here, but it would not be as big and pleasant to read as the one I posted on my blog.

Readers–What do YOU think!? Did you enjoy this interview? What are your plans to retire early, or at all? Who else enjoys From Cents To Retirement? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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